Free-standing emergency medical centers reduce wait times, increase access

Long emergency room (ER) wait times continue to plague hospitals across the country, but free-standing emergency medical centers may help solve the problem.

Baylor Health Care System recently opened its latest free-standing emergency medical center in Burleson, Texas. The average time from check in to discharge is about an hour, the Crowley Star reported.

The facilty has eight ER beds, eight inpatient beds in which patients can stay for up to five days, trauma and pediatric emergency suites, a lab for diagnostics and a radiology department that are dedicated solely to the ER, according to the article. 

Regional CEO John Wood told the newspaper that the facility can quickly care for patients because ER staff don't have to share resources with an entire hospital. 

Wood said that the streamlined processes, small size and independence from hospital attachment eliminates long wait times, and improves access and quality of care, according to the Star. A full staff of nurses, radiologists and paramedics are all cross-trained to run the lab and act as ER techs, Wood said, and there's always at least one physician on duty 24/7.

The trend is catching on across the state and the country. First Choice Emergency Room announced it will open a free-standing emergency room in Pflugerville, Texas in late August. The facility, staffed by physicians and emergency trained nurses, will remain open around the clock and boast both a radiology suite and in-house lab.

There are now 101 standalone ERs in Texas, FierceHealthcare previously reported. However, some patients and insurers think the facilities deceive patients when it comes to pricing. One received a $1,800 bill along with her $100 co-pay after using Elite Care Emergency's Plano, Texas center when she was told the Center accepted her insurance, but did not ask if it was among her insurers' approved providers. 

To learn more:
- here's the Crowley Star article
- check out the announcement

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